Movie Review: ‘How It Ends’ (Contains Spoilers)

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The journey that audiences are taken on when watching the Netflix original film, How It Ends, turns out to be both confusing and disappointing.

The film starts out promising, when a man named Will, played by Theo James, must travel from Seattle to Chicago for a visit with the parents of his girlfriend, Sam, played by Kat Graham. He intends to ask Sam’s father, Tom, played Forest Whitaker, if he can marry her. Upon arriving in Chicago, Will is engaging in a video chat with Sam when a mysterious apocalyptic disaster hits the west coast of the United States. Once contact is lost, Will and Tom decide to travel across the country to find her and rescue her from Seattle, which is now destroyed.

Although the film has an entertaining suspense factor and an interesting plot, the writing seems very poorly executed. For instance, from beginning to end, the film never explains what type of disaster hit the U.S., or why the government is completely inactive during the chaos. In addition, despite Will and Tom, the film’s other characters are very unlikable and one dimensional, which makes it hard to connect to them or care about their misfortunes.

Some of the film’s lowest points come in the form of loopholes and dead ends. For some odd reason, there are multiple instances where a character’s storyline stops abruptly. It is never explained why Sam’s mom, Paula, played by Nicole Ari Parker, was left alone by herself in a dangerous environment. Later, we are introduced to Ricki, a mechanic played by Grace Dove, who Tom pays to travel with he and Will in case they have car trouble. During an instance where we thought Ricki’s character was going to gain some depth, she vanishes and Will and Tom decide to go on without her, leaving viewers clueless about what happened to her or why she left on her own while they were in the middle of nowhere at night. The most disappointing twist is when Tom is killed off around the middle of the film. Prior to the character’s death, the film seemed to portray Tom as the lead character, which leaves viewers shocked when he dies, causing Will to step in as the protagonist. Later, upon finding Sam alive, Will never tells her what happened to her father, nor does he tell her about the events that preceded their reunion.

What is perhaps the film’s biggest fault is the ending itself. After an earthquake begins to travel towards the house where Will and Sam are taking refuge, they decide to flee in a Jeep that Will obtained earlier in the movie. Together, they are shown speeding down a road as smoke envelopes the scenery behind them before the credits begin rolling; bringing the film to an end. How ironic that a film titled, How It Ends, would be missing an ending altogether. The final scene makes no effort to bring the movie to a conclusion, leaving audiences unsure about whether Will and Sam ever escaped the earthquake or made it back to Chicago. It is truly one of the most disappointing endings I have seen in the past decade.

Simply put, How It Ends is not deserving of critical acclaim. The star power of Forest Whitaker, Theo James, Kat Graham, and Nicole Ari Parker, is appealing but not strong enough to hamper the film’s sloppy writing and loose ends. Despite this, the areas where the film does shine are special effects and setting. With an estimated budget of $20,000,000, the film’s beautiful, vivid scenery and high quality special effects are impressive. With that said, if you’re looking for a film worthy of accolades, How It Ends is not the film for you. However, if you’re just looking for an entertaining movie to kill time with, the movie is just right.

Overall Rating: 4.5/10

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